The controversy over going ahead with the nine Inaugural balls' huge
fireworks and party bashes, to which mostly the rich and powerful have
been invited, has not been restricted to talk radio shows. Deep in the
White House deliberations last year, some of the BBBs (the brainy big
backers), who are selected to give policy advice, counseled cancellation
of all but the formal inaugural proceedings, as some previous
Presidents, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, have done.
These BBBs made the argument that in a time of war, with our soldiers
dying in Iraq, enormous and growing human casualties from Iraq to South
Asia, it would be an expression of respect to cool off the often-garish
festivities and use the $40 million or more to help those in need.
There was actually some support in the White House for this view, but
"the Texans prevailed," said a participant. However, one Texan who
dissented from Dallas way was Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks and a
strong Bush voter. He thought the Tsunami catastrophe should warrant
such a sobering decision.
Some of Bush's defenders on Talk Radio called to say that since the
millions of dollars are coming from private sources, what's the big
deal? First, it is costing almost that much again in federal and
District of Columbia police, helicopters, surveillance staff and other
requirements of the Inaugural security state. Second, and more
consequential, this private or corporate money is a very costly deal for
regular Americans who don't get their calls returned.
It is not that these Americans are asked to contribute. Not while the
corporate fat cats are falling all over themselves writing out $100,000
to $250,000 checks to the Bush bash. In return these companies get
favors, privileges, tax breaks, subsidies, lax law enforcement for which
the people pay dearly in health, safety and economic burdens. But then
with Bush it has always been about Big Business.
An example is the atomic power industry that wants Bush to give them
huge taxpayer dollars to create the next generation of nuclear plants
and freeze out the public even more from challenging their location and
emergency standards. So John E. Kane, the industry lobbyist, says that
its $100,000 donation is a way of supporting the President.
The Washington Post summarized this cash register politics: "Wall Street
investment firms seeking to profit from private Social Security
accounts; oil, gas and mining companies pushing the White House to
revive a stalled energy-subsidy bill; and hotels and casinos seeking an
influx of immigrant labor are among the 44 interests that have each
given $250,000 and the 66 that have donated $100,000 to $225,000. And
the money keeps pouring in."
Corporations are free to give as much as they want to the Inaugural,
unlike elections where they are prohibited from direct contributions
(there are many indirect ways, of course). The Bush people placed a top
limit of $250,000 to restrain those straining to add more for this
No industry has benefited more monetarily from George W. Bush than the
drug companies. So they are reciprocating for all those massive taxpayer
subsidies, government research, and weaker regulations for which they
are so indebted.
Ameriquest, a mortgage company working the high interest fields of
minority neighborhoods, got around the $250,000 limit by adding another
$500,000 from its two subsidiaries. This company wants weaker federal
pre-emption of tougher laws that states have been passing against
There is another contract that is unsavory in this modern version of
Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake" posture. In the next few days,
there will be reports leaking about the forthcoming Bush Budget. They
will describe how those most in need and all Americans who require good
public services and safety will see such programs further reduced. These
will include environmental, transportation, health, poverty, housing and
other essential services.
Already Bush intends to end a rural housing program and other
anti-poverty efforts, while giving more money to the staggeringly
wasteful and often misdirected Defense and Homeland Security Budgets.
For all the excess, one might think that regular Americans at least
would be able to sit in the bleachers. Sure, just fork over $100 to $150
dollars and prove you're a Bush partisan and you'll be there.
The merchants naturally are taking full advantage of this invasion by
the grasping affluent. Hotels are marking up room prices. The good ones
go for $2000 a night. For those willing to pay more, the Ritz-Carlton
offers a four day $150,000 package starting with private jet
transportation from wherever for the couple, caviar and Dom Perignon 24
hours a day and endless other perks.
Want to rent a fur coat? That'll be $15,000 down for a deposit
(presumably to be returned) plus the rental. "No problem," said one
visitor who did not what his own fur coat to go through the hassle at
the airport, reports public radio.
When will the organized people be heard from?
For more information, visit www.citizenworks.org